Sensitivity Training for Supporters of Traditional Marriage vs Chairman Mao’s Re-education Camps. How Do They Differ?

Sensitivity Training for Supporters of Traditional Marriage vs Chairman Mao’s Re-education Camps. How Do They Differ? June 7, 2014

 

 

Americans have long deplored “thought police” and “re-education camps” in Communist regimes.

We have thumped our chests and demanded human rights for those in other climes. We have been appalled by the violations of the basic civil rights of their citizens by totalitarian states; rights that we took for granted. These governments seemed and actually were hell bent on enforcing emotional/moral/social conformity at the price of individual liberty, religious freedom and the rights of free speech and thought.

Americans have practically written the book on condemnation of such actions by other governments against their hapless citizens.

So, why are we doing the same thing to our citizens?

I’ll be first to admit that sensitivity training is less violent and draconian than marching people through the streets in front of jeering crowds and then consigning them to re-education camps for years. But the difference is a matter of degree. The underlying principle of government-enforced mind control is the same.

In fact, the re-education meetings in which people denounce one another and confess to their lack of revolutionary fervor that are conducted by these same regimes seem eerily close to sensitivity training as it’s currently being used by our courts and various “civil rights commissions.”

I started thinking about this because of the court-ordered abuse of the civil rights of Jack Phillips. Mr Phillips is the owner of what must be the only bakery in Colorado. He is also a new social and economic Christian martyr.

As so often happens with the people who turn out to be the real heroes, Mr Phillips seems an unlikely candidate for the title. He’s a small businessman, a baker by trade, just trying to make an honest living. He didn’t go out looking for trouble. He’s no grenade-throwing political activist with a vast talk-show following. He doesn’t wear $1,000 suits and he probably hasn’t had a single voice lesson to prepare him for his new life in the public sphere.

He’s a baker. He owns a bakery. He makes donuts and apple fritters and stuff.

So how did Jack Phillips the baker become a Christian martyr?

It’s simple. He refused to violate his faith.

He didn’t, mind you, bother or even try to engage anyone else. He simply followed his own beliefs by living them in his own life with his own actions. These beliefs led him to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding. And that made him the target of the culture cops.

Because, you see, wedding cakes are a human right. Religious freedom, not so much.

That is the question here, not wedding cakes, but religious freedom. I am not advocating for a particular position by Christians on the great cake-baking question. I am advocating for the right of free Americans to follow their faith without being forced into re-education (brain-washing) as punishment for doing so.

The cake-baking issue is distinct by virtue of the pettiness of the demands of those who want to coerce others on the one hand and the enormity of the principle involved in the actions of those who resist on the other. The extra issue of forcing people into re-education for practicing their faith is also enormous. And chilling.

I can only surmise that the offended parties couldn’t find any other baker in the whole state of Colorado to bake their cake. Why else would they drop all the lovey-dovey premarital stuff and spend their time dragging Mr Phillips into court? It’s not like he refused them service. They could have bought all the donuts and cupcakes they wanted. He refused to bake a cake for this one specific purpose, which was against his religious beliefs.

But in the brave new world of government-enforced political correctness, acting on religious beliefs by living them is not allowed. No one is allowed to believe and adhere to a morality except the group morality of the almighty politically-correct zeitgeist. It appears that violation of this bit of absolute totalitarianism is a new kind of crime, and by that I mean a literal, criminal act.

After going through all the good times that everyone who has ever been in a courtroom knows all too well, Mr Phillips found himself guilty as charged of being publicly Christian. I believe the specific legal verbiage was a tad different from that, but that’s what it amounted to.

He has been court-ordered to bake the blasted cake and — get ready for this — go to “sensitivity training,” and send his entire staff to the same training, where, presumably, they will get their brains washed out and cleaned of any remaining individual thinking. He’s also supposed to re-write his company policies to reflect the values he’s been ordered to learn to believe.

On top of that, he has to submit quarterly reports to Colorado’s “Civil Rights Commission” (which seems an odd name for this group) to prove that he’s baking up a storm for gay weddings everywhere.

How does this differ from Chairman Mao’s re-education camps? By degree. How does it differ from governments forcing people to attend re-education groups? You got me.

And, since this sort of government bullying of private citizens was unthinkable not so very long ago, I tend to regard that matter of degree as a moving dot on the line toward totalitarianism.

Mr Phillips, for his part, says he’s not going to change his company policies. “My God is bigger than any bullies they’ve got,” he said.

 

As for the sensitivity training designed to rehabilitate Mr Phillips into believing what the government demands he believe, that may not work out, either. “My 87-year-old mom works here, and she says she’s not going to be rehabilitated,” he said.

When quizzed about how he would respond if the Supreme Court of the United States orders him to bake the cake and get his brain washed out, he said, “There’s civil disobedience. We’ll see what happens. I’m not giving up my faith. Too many people have died for this faith to give it up that easily.”

This is left-wing-nut totalitarianism. But we can’t get away from it by a blind flight to the right. There’s plenty of right-wing-nut totalitarianism, too. Blindly empowering either one of them is going to do us in.

The real answer is up to his elbows in flour in a bakery in Colorado. Ordinary people who will not compromise their faith and are willing to take the hits involved in standing for Jesus are the answer. We have to say “no.” And by “we” I mean all of us pew-sitting Christians who’ve been going along to get along.

Because extraordinary ordinary people like Jack Phillips are the only real heroes there are.

 

The video below discusses the way that Christians are being blocked from certain professions for holding traditional Christian beliefs. It also gives us the example of another brave person who is standing for her beliefs in the face of enormous government pressure; in this case from a government-funded university.

 

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233 responses to “Sensitivity Training for Supporters of Traditional Marriage vs Chairman Mao’s Re-education Camps. How Do They Differ?”

  1. I urge you to not put this man on the martyr pedestal. As a budiness man he needs to know sndvobey the laws of the jurisdiction. What if he refused to pay taxes becsuse he was a war pacifist. What if he did not believe in interracial marriage? Does that nean he ca discriminate and turn away couples. No he cannot. He may not like the laws but he can move his business to a jurisdiction tgat does not have these laws in the public square.

    • – Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; Render unto God the things which are God’s

      what happens when the two come into conflict?

      – We ought to obey God rather than men

      • Torrance, the Islamists expressed the exact same thought as the one you just stated when they flew airplanes into my office building.

        • Did you really think about that statement. Rome thought Christians where insane to die rather than make an offering to Caesar as a god. Jews died because they would not eat pork. This is part of who the best of us are and these are our role models. The worst of us will be deterred by the small punishments, but what about the others.

          • Laws exist to be followed and enforced. Civil disobedience implies an agreement to pay the price of non-compliance rather than to comply. We don’t have a right to not be punished for violating a law just because we don’t agree with it. That’s not how it works.

            • I guess then the question is how far are you willing to go to enforce the law? Are Christians now unable to work in certain professions? What is to be done with the non-conformers?

              • If Christians are unable to provide their services as bakers, photographers, florists, limo drivers, etc. because they may have to accommodate same sex couples, they really need to think about what is important to them. If they really think that Jesus would disapprove of them plying their trade for people who do not live up to their religious moral standards, it’s really hard to muster up any sympathy for them. They need to get real.

                • No, no, getting ‘real’ is to NOT celebrate two guys doing it in the rear and let’s call it a marriage.
                  Getting real is to live in REALITY, Bill!
                  Two guys doing it in the rear can’t reproduce. Why, BECAUSE THEY MISUSED THEIR SEXUAL ORGANS, Bill!
                  Now if two old couple (male&female) can’t reproduce and they want to get married, well that’s okay. Do you know why Bill? Because they didn’t MISUSE their sexual organs on purpose!

                  See, Bill logic is good!

                  Two guys doing it in the rear and changing the definition of marriage is bad BECAUSE PEOPLE SHOULD LIVE IN REALITY!

                  • Not all heterosexuals can reproduce either, April. Not all young heterosexuals can reproduce—not just OLD heterosexuals. Did you know that? Why is it OK for them to marry but not SS man OR women?

            • “Sieg heil mein Fuhrer.”
              (Hail victory, my leader)
              Yes, we must follow BAD LAWS because Bill S. said so!
              Sieg Hail!

              • Don’t pick on Bill, April. (Lovely name, btw.) He has a right to think what he thinks. Put forward your reasons for disagreeing with him.

              • If you have a problem obeying laws, don’t compare me to Hitler if I point out that civil disobedience requires a willingness to pay the penalties for non-compliance. I’d much rather you compare me to Henry David Thoreau who said the same thing.

        • What if the law of the land is BAD, Bill? I see where you are going with this, perhaps the SS officers should listen to Hitler.

          Ah, history lessons never learned!

          So now we MUST CELEBRATE INSANITY, for two guys doing it in the REAR MUST BE CELEBRATED! YES, TWO GUYS DOING IT IN THE REAR IS A MARRIAGE because the STATE said so! (I’m sorry folks that I have to make you visualize this, perhaps through visualization you will see THE MADNESS!)

          Folks, welcome to the world of INSANITY!

      • So… Caesar is not also required to render unto God what is God’s?

        It is not right that Caesar usurps what is God’s, no more than Caesar’s subjects are wont to do. In the case of a “government of the people, by the people and for the people,” if the people are to render unto God what is His, the government should follow as well.

        We now advocate allegiance to a moving target, subject to the whim of the mob. Simply because something is legal does not make it right.

    • You forget that there are competing values here.
      The Constitution gives us freedom of speech and association. It also protects freedom of religion. Anti Discrimination laws must be subject to constitutional requirements. So there are two competing forces at work here. It is not as simple as saying “Well the state passed a law, so he must comply” Of course states passed gay marriage bans, and gays don’t just knuckle under and obey, they are fighting those bans in the courts. So you can’t have it both ways.

      • I think you can. Commerce does not have protected religious beliefs. If you think this is true be careful what you ask for.

      • No state passed a ban on homosexual marriage. States passed various laws which treated marriage, but always with the understanding that marriage was a certain kind of relationship between a man and a woman. And then advocates for sodomy have managed to get influential judges and lawmakers to pretend that the whole point of marriage was to create some great “thing” that we can punish homosexuals with by denying to them.

    • Jeff, Colorado does not recognize same sex marriage. And, all of your excuses are specious. This is about one issue, two men getting”married” and insisting that this baker make them a cake. It is only important if you believe people have the right to force you to do something. Why should he have to move when they can go someplace else. I am sure they did this to force him. It is an attempt at thought control, just like Stalin.

    • Your problem is that you assume that all laws are good laws. Evil laws ought not to be laws and ought not to be tolerated. The approach of “do whatever the government says and like it, it or get the [ahem] out” is not the American approach.

    • I don’t think the question is really so much whether this man should have to compromise his values but why the gays insist he do so. What’s it to them? Do they hate themselves and their lifestyle so much that they must take it out on others? It seems that is the case. As long as the baker refused in a nice way, and I’ve seen nothing indication he was anything but nice about it, any decent human being would respect his opinion no matter how much they differ with it. There are other bakers.

      • “What’s it to them”? What do you think it is to them? What if a baker refused to make a cake for you because you are Catholic and he sees the Catholic Church as the Great Babylon? And what if every baker in the area did the same? Should it be up to you to keep searching for a baker who would sell to a Catholic couple?

        • What if? That’s a good question, because in this country we used to have the concept of legal standing, which required that actual harm be shown to be done. Are there in fact no other bakers around willing to bake the cake for this pseudo-couple? Is finding one an undue hardship?

          • If I refused to let a black man take my cab and told him there is a cab with a black driver behind me and he can take that cab instead, I would not be inconveniencing him but it would be discrimination nonetheless. Yes. They can go to another baker. Why should they have to?

    • If he’s willing to pay the price for it, and it seems he is, why not? The point of freedom is in the hard cases, not when everything is sunshine and lollipops and you like the people involved. If a law places a cake above religious freedom, the law is wrong.

      • If a religion causes you to violate laws against discrimination then there is a good chance that the religion is wrongs. Islam calls for executing gays. We know that is wrong. It is not a Muslim’s First Amendment right to kill someone because they are gay. Why should it be a Christian’s right to discriminate against gays. Neither make any sense.

        • The problem I see with your argument, though, is that when we’re looking at competing rights, natural law (in America) takes precedence over other civil rights. So, someone who believes in executing gays is allowed to express their (repugnant) opinion; however, they are not allowed to execute gay people, because a gay person’s right to life is the first right, and takes precedence over anyone’s right to express their belief in a nonverbal way. His religious freedom can’t take precedence over someone else’s basic right to life. Laws against murder in our country are based on this basic claim: the right with which our Creator endows us to have our lives not be taken from us for any reason, religious or otherwise. The question in this case, as I understand it, isn’t about his right to discriminate; he doesn’t have that right. The question, though, is whether as a business owner he has freedom of association and the ability to interpret his religion as he sees it: so if baking a cake constitutes material cooperation with gay marriage for him, I think we can allow that, as long as there are other cake bakers around with whom the gay couple can do business. It’s an admittedly thin line, I know, but I think the baker has rights in this scenario to not have to do work if he doesn’t want to–that’s actually a (very small) form of slavery, is it not?

          • He can stop providing wedding cakes for all kinds of weddings. He can’t discriminate against divorcees who want to remarry without getting an annulment, same sex partners who want to marry, or anyone else who he sees as violating the rules of his religion.

      • Elizabeth, where do you draw the line? My religion says it is sinful for women to drive. Can I deny you a drivers license, based on my sincerely held religious belief?

        • I find that analogy problematic. First, I assume that were you in the position to do so, you would be a government employee, which seems substantially different from owning a private business. But yeah, I suppose if you had a moral objection to it, and you were willing to go to jail, or whatever, to stand up for your belief, then kudos to you. It would then be the time for the question of whose rights trump whose to be argued in the public square. It seem ludicrous, of course, because it’s not a question at issue, here. Now, the difference would be whether you, as a public employee who knowingly took a job that included handing out licenses to women, would have a conscience protection against doing so; would that right outweigh my right to mobility? Perhaps it would work the way other conscience protections do; if I could easily access another way of getting a license, then you would be able to refuse.

          But to clarify my initial point: Jeff’s question contained, as an example, the pacifist who refuses to pay taxes. Conscientious objectors have gone to jail in this country: isn’t it their right to do so? That was my point.

          • Not sure I follow your point 100% but I will say, yes you have to pay your taxes even if you dont like them. Objectors are free to move to Ireland or Iran or Israel or wherever the tax laws are more appealing.

            • Or, they can stay here and go to jail. By doing so, they may just sway people to their cause. Conscientious objection has a long and noble history in our country, and I don’t have any objection to anyone engaging in it, just so long as he’s willing to accept the consequences of his actions. Sometimes the price is very high; it’s possible this baker will lose his business, and I’m sure he’s already incurred huge expenses. Obviously, the cake is worth it to both sides. I don’t know that there’s many things I care about enough to want someone to lose their business over–it wouldn’t be a cake. But I’m not sure I’d lose my business over it, either. It really is an issue of competing claims where both parties have a compelling argument. But the baker does have an argument–just calling him a bigot as so many have done tries to elide that fact, but there it is.

  2. If diversity is such an important value why doesn’t the professional association require all counseling students to take theology classes, Catholic, Calvinist, evangelical, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist? They seem to be showing preference.
    For the baker, I’m glad he’s standing up. Let’s see what the courts do.

  3. The essential problem is that the state has decided it can define morality, and is then insisting that every person in the state must conform to their view of morality. In essence, 51 percent of the electorate can decide what the other 49 percent MUST believe.
    This gentlemen should challenge in court ANY attempt by the state to use coercion to “re-educate” him.
    Such re-education efforts are fundamentally obnoxious to basic American values. One would think it could be challenged as violative of First Amendment rights. The state has no business trying to re-educate anyone; our minds are our own, and the state is limited to punishing our acts. It should not be forcing us to mold our thoughts in ways they find pleasant.

    • Fred, Doesn’t the state tell us what is moral and what is not moral when it enacts ant–fraud laws? Consumer protection laws? Child abuse laws?

      • Yes, laws should be enacted on the basis of morality, I agree. The problem of the legal decision under discussion is that it wrongly rules in effect that someone must help celebrate what he thinks is wrong. Forcing someone to do that is a violation of morality.

      • No. The law is only concerned with what is legal. Many things are legal but not moral. It is legal for a televangelist to tell poor people that Jesus wants them to send him their rent money. It is legal for him to use the money to buy a third jet. It isn’t moral.

    • The essential problem is that the state has decided it can define morality, and is then insisting that every person in the state must conform to their view of morality.

      You think this is about morality? You think the state judges people as to whether they are moral or immoral?

      It’s illegal to discriminate, period. It’s not a matter of morality.

  4. Sensitivity training is idiotic. No one, even racists, change their minds after sensitivity training. Actually i bet it only makes them more ingrained in what they believe. But you make a good connection between Liberal attempts at control and communist methods. They are most definitely in sympathy.

    One other thing. Would they mandate pro gay counsels have sensitivity training when they have prejudices against religious people? Why wasn’t that asked?

  5. The student is the one demanding gays undergo brainwashing in a form of therapy that has been proven detrimental to patients and is part of a history of therapeutic abuse that includes lobotomy, castration, and simulation of death using purified curare to cure homosexuals. The school is demanding that she be taught the harm that this does.

    What would happen if you got a traffic ticket, Rebecca? Would you compare it to Christ’s crucifixion, you obscene parody of a Christian?

  6. The wrong people are having to go to this sensitivity training hog wash. It should be those so offended that someone has an opposing opinion who should be subjected to hours of mind numbing “training”. Oh, wait. I thought I was in America. They made the whole audience (college students) go here because someone on stage THOUGHT someone in the audience was laughing at them as they were portraying a gay character. It had nothing to do with their bad acting at all. Gee, good thing they didn’t through produce. They would have been charged with a hate crime and assault.

  7. Rebecca, This is a magnificent column. And whether you intended to or not, I think you clearly stated your own mission statement for Public Catholic when you wrote:

    “This is left-wing-nut totalitarianism. But we can’t get away from it by a blind flight to the right. There’s plenty of right-wing-nut totalitarianism, too. Blindly empowering either one of them is going to do us in…Ordinary people who will not compromise their faith and are willing to take the hits involved in standing for Jesus are the answer. We have to say “no.” And by “we” I mean all of us pew-sitting Christians who’ve been going along to get along.”

    Thanks for you common sense approach to achieving the common good… a concept that, unfortunately, is alien to the wing-nuts on both the left and the right– and they seem be the ones that to drive much of the political discourse (really, political disfunction) in our nation today.

      • Not that I expect this to be acknowledged, but Jack Phillips
        has NOT been required to go to any ‘sensitivity training’. The original order laid down by the Civil Rights Commission clearly states that the only training required is on the Public Accommodations section of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.

        In short, this can be likened to training on OSHA requirements. That is, training on how to comply with the law (for the benefit
        of all).

        The ‘sensitivity-training’ meme is only being circulated on religious based and conservative websites. At best the ‘sensitivity-training’ claim is a misrepresentation of the facts.

        Christians should NEVER have a part in such deception, EVER! Regardless of where one stands on the right to discriminate; winning through dishonesty is wrong. And Christians who use such duplicity deserve the ire of the GLBT community.

  8. Kudos to Mr. Phillips! “I won’t be reconstructed/And I don’t give a damn.” (from “I’m a good old rebel”, a Confederate song). We need many more people like him to end this tyranny of “equality”.

  9. Total madness in America. But can I be complaisant just because this’s madness has not as yet hit Australia. We need to pray that God’s Kingdom come sooner rather than later.

  10. It’s the same thing as companies creating sexual harassment policies to keep men from harassing women at work. There’s nothing wrong with it.

      • It’s not. They have nothing to do with one another, and it’s nutty to try to equate them. And it dilutes the issue of sexual harassment. Let’s just start with the obvious–the customer is not an employee.

      • I was talking about Rebecca’s point about sensitivity training. Not about cakes.

        I think all are wrong with the cake thing. The baker is wrong unless they turn away all who don’t meet their religious beliefs. The gays are wrong to force someone to do business with them.

      • The commonality is that in this country, we have laws that require the decent treatment of other people in the business world. These laws also mean that no employer can fire a person for being catholic.

  11. I would think that there is quite a large difference between a slave labor camp and being told to treat other people how you would like to be treated.

    The news stations, for ratings, mischaracterized the training. The baker is supposed to ensure that his employees obey the law. The are not told what to believe, just how to act when providing a service to the public.

    We as a nation tried “separate but equal.” For decades, the Green Book was published to help African Americans find hotels and restaurants, because in many towns there were no places that would serve them. It wasn’t pretty. We learned that in the area of goods and services provided to the public, our nation works best when all money is green.

    Laws that require all people to be treated equally are good. These laws should be honored.

    • “Laws that require all people to be treated equally are good. These laws should be honored.”

      People YES! but not events! No one is questioning whether a gay basketball team should be able to get a cake from anyone it wants; the issue here is something sacred timeless deeply believed: marriage and what it means in society and what it stands for and for millions upon millions upon millions of ppl it will always be one man and one women and so to force them to violate their deepest held beliefs is plain and simple wrong and has not place in a free and TOLERANT society.

  12. This is utterly ridiculous. We have a basic concept in this country – if you serve the public, you have to serve ALL the public.

    The logic used here is exactly the same used to defend the Jim Crow south.

    Personally, I think if the Phillips want to avoid making wedding cakes for gay folk, they should just stop doing wedding cakes and pick a different product.

  13. An article I found on this man says he is giving up the wedding business altogether. I hope he starts baking cookies … then I could mail order his products …

  14. Yesterday, I wrote an admittedly very lengthy comment in which I set out to demolish Representative Hamilton’s arguments in support of Jack Phillips. I’ll be charitable and assume that my original missive was somehow absorbed spontaneously into the binary ether, rather than accusing anyone of intentionally deleting what I thought was a well-reasoned and respectful rebuttal.

    So I’ll try again, this time using somewhat fewer words.

    In a nutshell, if you read the actual judgement (click here to read it), it is clear that the heroes here are the complainants, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, who were determined by the court to be the victims of illegal discrimination. They could have chosen to meekly slink off to find a baker who would obey the law, but instead they chose to confront the bully and bring him to justice. Good for them! Civil protections are worth nothing if they are not defended.

    The facts of this case and the reasoning for the judgement are absolutely clear. Jack Phillips’ claim that respecting the law would impinge on his religious freedom was unequivocally rejected by the court. Here’s what the court actually said:

    At first blush, it may seem reasonable that a private business should be able to refuse service to anyone it chooses. This view, however, fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are…

    The salient feature distinguishing same-sex weddings from heterosexual ones is the sexual orientation of its participants. Only same-sex couples engage in same-sex weddings. Therefore, it makes little sense to argue that refusal to provide a cake to a same-sex couple for use at their wedding is not “because of” their sexual orientation.

    In other words, you can be as vocal as you want in opposition to same-sex marriage, but it doesn’t change the key fact in this case: homosexuals are a protected class under Colorado civil rights law, and no business can legally refuse them service just because the proprietor’s religion says that homosexuality is bad.

    Furthermore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church itself clearly tells us not to discriminate against homosexuals:

    2358 The number of men and women who have
    deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination,
    which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.
    They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every
    sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These
    persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are
    Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the
    difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    So the appropriate stance for a “public Catholic” to take with regard to this issue should be to defend the civil rights of Craig and Mullins, and to excoriate Phillips for breaking the law. Simply baking a cake can in no way be construed as an expression of support for gay marriage. (Seriously, read the actual judgement!)

    Finally, to compare court-mandated sensitivity training to the horrors of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution re-education camps is to engage in hyperbole of the worst kind. There’s no difference of degree here. What Mr. Phillips did was wrong, both morally and legally; being required to develop a certain degree of empathy for LGBT people hardly seems like draconian punishment.

      • Rep. Hamilton, I’d like to apologize for the insulting statements towards you that I included in my original post. I was, and still am, profoundly angered by the content and especially the tone of your article (for reasons detailed elsewhere on this page), but I was out of line. You were right to delete it. Mea culpa.

        [BTW, it looks like you deleted a comment insulting me… someone accusing me stomping my little feet and screaming that I’m normal. Thanks for that. For the record, my feet are average sized, I rarely raise my voice, and whatever the polar opposite of gay is, is what I am. I don’t understand how anyone, male or female, can be sexually attracted to men… but I’m happy my wife is.]

    • Surely baking a cake celebrating a “gay wedding” is different from baking cookies that have no message on them. No-one should be forced to create a product celebrating what one does not believe in.

    • All human beings have a right to adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care, which is why public accommodation laws have seemed to be necessary in this country. Do you really understand a wedding cake to be the same thing as food to which every human being has a right? Because it it isn’t. It is a work of art commissioned to celebrate an event, and the artist chooses to refuse the commission. The baker didn’t refuse to sell food to an active sodomite. He refused to participate in a manifestly immoral event. Nobody disputes that he would have sold a dozen doughnuts to the fellows, or even a generic wedding cake in the showroom (if there had been some).

      • Public accomodation goes further than basic life necessities. Public accomodation laws are intended to remove discrimination across many dimensions in order to create a broad level playing field.

        Lunch counters were never a basic human right. Blacks had access to food, but it wasn’t the same. That’s the fundamental point. If it were just about meeting basic needs, we could have kept most of the Jim Crow structures in the south and just tweaked them a bit. We didn’t do that – we made the public accomodation very broad for exactly this reason.

  15. “He has been court-ordered to…go to “sensitivity training,” and send his entire staff to the same training, where, presumably, they will get their brains washed out and cleaned of any remaining individual thinking.” ~Rebecca Hamilton

    ***

    From the original order:

    The Respondents shall take remedial measures to ensure compliance
    with the Public Accommodation section of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act
    [section] 24-34-601 (2), C.S.R., including but not limited to comprehensive
    staff training on the Public Accommodation section of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and changes to any and all company polices to comply with [section] 24-34-601 (2), C.S.R and this Order.

    ***

    Can somebody please point out where the “re-education camp” is mentioned in that order?

    …waiting…waiting…waiting…

    Sorry to be blunt, Rebecca, but in your effort to ensure good ol’ Americans their ‘freedom of conscience’ to not serve gay people; you break the 9th commandment and commit several abominations [Proverbs 6:16-19]

    You’re straining out a gnat and swallowing (several) camels.

    I’m willing to concede you may be miss-informed. But the truth of the matter has now been given voice. Will you rescind the statement? Or be complicit in the
    perpetuation of lies?

    • One would assume that it is not so hard to understand that being sent for re-education because of one’s beliefs is aptly labeled the equivalent of sending someone to re-education camp.

    • “including but not limited to comprehensive staff training on the Public Accommodation section of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and changes to any and all company polices to comply with [section] 24-34-601 (2), C.S.R and this Order”.

      And this is why it was such a big deal when the Educational Testing Service reduced the importance of analogical reasoning on the SATs. Comprehension of analogies has clearly taken a major hit since I was in college. Mrs. Hamilton very clearly said, “But the difference is a matter of degree. The underlying principle of government-enforced mind control is the same.”

      Please don’t you continue to be complicit in the perpetuation of responding to a post without having actually read the post itself.

      • The baker and his staff will receive training on what the law says and how they must conduct business to comply with the law. Why is it a bad thing for them to be educated about one of the state laws that applies to their business? Ms. Hamilton can take issue with the law, but it seems silly to pretend the baker is a martyr or victim of an attempt at brainwashing when he’s merely going to learn about his state’s Anti-discrimination statute. He has to learn about mandated food handling practices and state tax rates also. He doesn’t have to agree with any of them. He can engage in civil disobedience with regard to any of them and pay the penalty. Or he can decide to stop baking special event cakes. Or he can obey the law but start a drive to change it.

      • If my comment brought you to the conclusion that I did not
        read the post, then your deductive reasoning skills could use a little work; because you couldn’t be more wrong.

        I was not commenting on any analogy she made. I commented on something she clearly asserted regarding Jack Phillips. Namely that he was being forced to undergo ‘sensitivity training’; a bold faced lie.

        If you’re implying that she was just using “re-education camp” as analogous with the training on the law in question (Public
        Accommodations law), that Jack Phillips must familiarize himself with (since he is, ya know, offering Public Accommodations), I still call it a bold-faced lie.

        Having to follow Public Accommodations laws such as this one
        no more insists that Jack Phillps ‘must believe’ Gay is Good, any more then the Civil Rights laws of the 60’s insisted that racists ‘must believe’ Black is Beautiful. (Something Mrs. Hamilton also asserted)

        It simply states that in this country you are free to start a
        business if you so wish. However, if you do, here are the ground rules for running your business. If you cannot comply with these rules, then you should reconsider what business you are starting; or if you should start a venture at all.

        And this can be squarely proven.

        If after his brush up on the Public Accommodations law…er…’sensitivity training’, Jack decides to hang a sign in the front window of his business that says “Same-sex marriages are a farce and I don’t approve!” he’ll be free to do so without any fear(save for a few lost customers, etc.). However, when the next gay couple comes in for a wedding cake, guess what; since he made it his business to serve the public, then that is what he has to do.

        • Stop calling people liars Caspian. Talk about the issues, which, actually, is not the same thing as critiquing other people’s viewpoints. The issues are a separate thing, outside the other commenters.

          • To what issue are you referring?

            The headline of your post is about brainwashing. Specifically it asks if ‘sensitivity training’ is tantamount to ‘re-education camps’ (brainwashing).

            You then use Jack Phillips and an example of sensitivity
            training (which it isn’t) and then you take it a step further and ASSERT that he has been ordered to be brainwashed.

            There is no ‘issue’ to ‘talk’ about; you’ve asked and
            answered your own question.

            If all that in your above post is an effort to prompt a discussion about Religious Freedom; then with all due respect, you’ve missed the target.

            Mrs. Hamilton the issue of freedom of conscience is WELL worth discussing. It needs to happen and cool heads must prevail if anything good is to come from that discussion. But right out of the gate you’ve stymied any
            hope of rational dialog by clouding the topic with hyperbole and balderdash. You’ve played to the base and emotional instincts of anyone who reads your post. Until we can get to the truth of the matter, the only discussion that will be had will be the ravings of the extremes. Sadly, the Gospel and fellow Christians will
            be eviscerated in the process.

            So, why do you insist on conflating training on established law with brainwashing? These are two separate things with entirely different goals. If I’ve misunderstood your post, please clarify. If I am wrong about Jacks training, please point out what I’ve missed.

            • You’re not understanding me Caspian. Can you talk about issues instead of critiquing other people and their comments? What you are doing is argumentative and hectoring. It is not discussion.

  16. Honestly, I never thought about the baker. We got married 10
    years ago. It wasn’t even legal. We went to a hotel and bought the package
    deal. We went to the food tasting and at the end the planner said. “What about
    the cake?” I said, “I guess it should be white, right?” “And flavors?” she
    asked, writing everything in her notes. “You decide, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” I
    concluded, Bob shook his head in agreement. That was the end of the cake
    discussion.

    The real religious discussion was about the service. My
    partner, Bob, wanted a “full-on” Catholic mass. I was raised Southern Baptist. We
    met in the middle at Lutheran. (I don’t
    have a problem with faith, I just don’t like religion because people seem to
    get obnoxious.)

    Bob’s friends, mostly Catholic and Athiests. For my part, while I did a poor job of reconnecting with some people that should have been
    invited, a fact that I regret to this day, my friends, corkers and colleagues
    were mostly Jewish.

    So part of the Part of the “full-on” mass meant serving
    Communion to our guests, because Christ was of service. That’s right, here I am,
    at my wedding, a Gay Agnosticish/Protestant pushing a Catholic communion to
    Jews. Ha Ha! Let’s just say, not an easy sell.

    But apparently, while I was sitting at the wedding lunch
    counter, I was really supposed to be concerned about the religious ideology of
    the baker? So Religious Bakers of America, bake the cake, or not. Whatever.

    Just when you go into services on Sunday and take communion,
    consider it from us.

    • May I ask a question? You mentioned that your partner originally wanted a full on Catholic mass. Would the Church have married you 10 years ago, when if I understand correctly, the Church still doesn’t recognize or perform SS marriage? Obviously I don’t know where you live, but I hope your marriage is now ” legal”.

      • That’s what he wanted, because that’s how he was raised. No, the Catholic Church would never marry us, then or now. We picked Lutheran because it was half way in the middle. On our 10th anniversary we got married again this year legally, in CA.

        • Congratulations! I’m glad you are now “legal” . I’m glad the Lutheran church did your original ceremony 10 years ago. Thanks for answering my questions.

  17. This may seem naive, but how is baking a wedding cake any different than baking a cake for a person of color, or a person who is of another faith? A cake is a cake. The money to buy that cake is just as legit as that of anyone else. That fellow drew a fine line between baking/selling to homosexual persons but decides that those folks can’t eat his cake because they are having a ceremony that he disapproves of. I’m sorry. His baking a cake doesn’t mean he approves of the ceremony. It tends to remind me of the days when black people (no matter how famous, as some singers/actors etc. were) couldn’t use the same entrance to a venue, or eat with the “white” people in a restaurant etc. Just my opinion. I lived in the segregated south. People were able to refuse to bake a cake for “colored” weddings in those days. How is his refusal different?

    • Well one difference(and its not a minor one) is that the south was segregated by law. Ie. it was illegal for ‘white’ establishments to serve ‘colored’ folks. A business owner could be fined or even arrested if he was found to be serving the ‘wrong sort’ of people. I dont know if it applied to bakeries specifically, but it absolutely applied to restaurants and buses and such.

      In this case, there is no such law, and that gay couple could very easily go to another bakery. I think the fact that they didnt is very telling.

      • Yes, I lived in the south as a teen and young adult and know the laws then. However it appears that no business owner was brave enough to break that law and allow the “wrong sort” of people to eat in his restaurant. He/she waited until there were protests and marches etc. that finally forced equality. I lived in the city of Birmingham during the hosing and dogs turned on the people trying to get equality. Yes, the couple could have gone somewhere else. They chose not to.

    • How about when a couple of skinheads come into your bakery and say that they want you to bake a cake that says ‘White Power!’? You are saying that it is discriminatory for the baker not to make that cake. You are saying maybe that you support a situation where the baker should be forced to make that cake even though he feels strongly against participating in a white supremacist party, that he should be forced to change his company policy to make sure that nobody expresses any opposition to white supremacy.
      My view is very much contrary to yours. I think that the baker actually has a right to say that he refuses to accept a contract from the two skinheads and build them a cake that says White Power on it. If, on the other hand these two skinheads come into the bakery and ask to buy a tray of cookies then maybe I it’s true that the baker ought to simply serve them and leave his views out of it. Though I would also say that if these skinheads starting drawing swastikas on the walls in marker that he would have the right to ask them to leave.

      • If they were drawing anything on the walls in marker, he can call the police for vandalism. In all honesty, if he didn’t want to write white power on the cake, he could bake it and let them write on it. 🙂

        • Right, so skinheads come into the bakery and try to commission Phillips to bake them a cake saying it is for a white power convention asking him to write ‘WHITE POWER’ on the cake. Phillips says he’s not comfortable with that and refuses the job. The white supremicists then say, ‘never mind, just bake us the cake according to so-and-so specifications and we’ll write WHITE POWER ourselves’.
          First of all, do you not agree then that it is similarly true in the case of the commission for a wedding cake that he be permitted to deny making what is identifiable as a wedding cake? You do realize that neither the plaintiffs or the fake ‘human rights’ authority would agree with that compromise. Secondly, in the case of the skin-heads do you not see that Phillips would still possibly take issue with the prospect of accepting the job and baking a cake which is to celebrate a White Power convention, even if he doesn’t literally write ‘White Power’ on the cake? You do realize that you are changing the standard you expect from Phillips depending on specifically who stands in front of him as a customer and what particular moral opinion advises his choice. If you agree with Phillips’ moral conviction then it should be defended, but if you do not then he should be punished.

          • Do we know where the baker stands on white power? Also, was the wedding cake to have had any words on it? Cakes can be decorated in all sorts of ways. I guess it could be a problem if he didn’t want to inscribe the cake for the skinheads—-but again it is a store that sells to the public and even skinheads are “public” and spend money in stores etc. What is the definition of “public”?

            • ‘Do we know where the baker stands on white power?’ Wow, brilliant.

              And your point is that Phillips should not be allowed to say no, that he will not accept a job to bake a cake for a white supremacist celebration. That is, so long as it is a generic cake (not explicitly endorsing the use of the cake in the product itself).

              That’s not too far from where I see things, but unfortunately this doesn’t settle the issue. First, as I said in last comment, Phillips suggesting ‘I will make you cake, but I won’t make you a wedding cake’ would fly like a lead balloon with this gay couple and fake ‘human rights’ authority. Bakers have generic cakes for that purpose anyway. The second issue is that Phillips ought to be allowed to choose which cakes he’s going to make and which ones he won’t because he’s the one selling cakes. If he would rather spend the weekend with his family then make another cake for skin heads celebrating that they’re better than blacks then he is allowed to make that call.

              • He is a baker who sells to the public—the public includes those folks who wish to marry and some of those are SS couples. Public includes everyone, thus the anti-discrimination laws. It might also include a skinhead or 2—who knows? What happens to “the customer is always right?” I used to teach in a Catholic school—and taught Catholic teachings. Did I always agree with it? No, but I respected it and had no problem teaching it. The baker doesn’t have to agree with what a cake is used for—-even that for a skin head—it is a product he is selling, not the use of it or who is going to eat it.

  18. I would find this to be a more genuine conviction if Christians routinely denied services to heterosexual couples who have sexual practices they disapprove of (co-habiting before marriage, known use of birth control, swinging/polyamory, or cheating) I also agree that the couple in question could’ve probably found another bakery, but they were likely trying to make this a legal test case and perhaps it was unnecessary antagonism. At the end of the day, I wonder if this is really a very good example of publicly living one’s life by Jesus’ teachings. I’ll leave it to the Christians to decide.

    • uhhhh…..when was the last time you heard of a couple coming into a shop to get a fornication cake or an infidelity cake?? If one did, I am sure that the Christian cake-maker would refuse on the same grounds.

  19. I say let him refuse. He’s the one denying himself a paycheck just to feed his own bigotry. And in any case hes far from the only baker in Colorado, and I highly doubt every single one of them will reject gay couples.

    Thats why I’m convinced these sorts of stories are really just ‘stunts.’ Ifs not about the cake or the wedding, if it were they could just go to another bakery. Its really about humiliating people who are opposed to gay marriage. Some might say they deserve to be humiliated, but even so, lets call it what it is shall we?

    • Sir I think that this demonstrates a problem that is much worse than some ‘stunt’. Who ever would have thought any branch of the American judicial system would be empowered to force a private citizen to accept a specific contract against his will, let alone one that compromises his conscience? Who would have thought the American judicial system could compel a private citizen to publicly apologize against their will, force a citizen to change their privately held opinion, write new company policies that are not actually mandatory according to the law? These fake human rights organizations and tribunals are political activists who have somehow been empowered with legal authority and victims of their persecution have no defense or recourse against them save for disobedience. The point of the exercise is not merely to embarass it is to penalize to the maximum extent, both through financial penalty and disrupting people’s lives, and yes to publicly shame their targets. Unless you feel very strongly and are willing to make sacrifices for the sake of your freedom and convictions you simply comply, and all those around you who witness this make sure to comply themselves. It’s called self-censorship and it is the most effective way for totalitarian regimes to control their citizens and modify behavior.

  20. If discriminating against behavior is bigotry then everyone is a bigot. You don’t like the guy who berates the little old lady cashier…you bigot! You don’t like racists!..you bigot! You don’t like bakers who think it is unkind to lie to people about their behavior, you guessed it..you bigot!

    but what if God made Mr Phillips this way and he doesn’t have a choice?

    • No I would not support the situation of a restaurant owner refusing service to a gay couple unless there was some objective standard upon which service was denied.
      I also would not support the situation of a roofer refusing to shingle the house belonging to a gay couple (which is closer to the baker’s situation but not the same) because there is nothing affirmative in the roofer’s position in this case. At the same time I would never adopt the position of employing human rights organizations or legislation to compel contractual workers (even in this case) to accept jobs against their will, because it’s too heavy handed and too much of a compromise to ordinary liberty of being permitted to choose your own work.
      Phillips’ objection to devoting his work to celebrate a gay wedding is a different situation because he has adopted a legitimate and reasonable position that affirms a traditional definition of marriage, and chooses not to devote his time and business resources to support and perpetuate the actual practice of gay marriage. Yes, it’s a political position, but as everyone realizes people are certainly permitted to make business decisions based on politics; because as the Supreme Court has argued many times businesses are comprised of people, and people have the liberty to practice politics. The point is that you wouldn’t reasonably apply this standard if the baker objected to making a cake that said ‘White Power’, you wouldn’t apply this standard to an atheist photographer who did not want to work a Catholic wedding, you would not apply this standard to greenpeace refusing to do contract work for oil companies. We only support the illiberal position of removing Phillip’s choice to not work a gay wedding and force him to publicly denounce his personal religious and political views because Phillip is Christian and because those who are insulted by his views are gay.

      • Mike,

        Sexual orientation is now one of the traits that are protected under most anti-discrimination laws. You should just accept that as a given and stop trying to justify violators of these laws. They have no argument.

        • Bill, you fail to substantiate your argument that this is a legitimate application of anti-discrimination law; which is the point that I’m making here.

          Anti-discrimination law says you must serve a customer regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc; it doesn’t say that you will be compelled to participate in the choices of these ‘protected’ groups when you don’t want to or when such practices violate your own beliefs/conscience. The point is that everyone already knows a baker HAS a choice when it comes to accepting a job to make a cake. No one actually thinks that it is outside a baker’s authority to accept or decline a job to make a cake. And the baker as the owner of his own business and as the sole executer of his own time is permitted to make his own choice freely. This point has been illustrated a number of times in these comments; particularly well by Mike giving the examples of any other number of circumstances where we would accept someone choosing not to do a job for moral reasons.

          So what I’m defending is ordinary freedom and doing so objectively. I’m not applying one version of freedom to Christians serving gay customers and a different version to everyone else, or suggesting, as you have, that no one ought to have freedom to make business decisions based on personal values; a suggestion which is realized nowhere in actual practice.

          • Bill, you fail to substantiate your argument that this is a legitimate application of anti-discrimination law; which is the point that I’m making here.

            There are people who are highly educated and who have years of experience who are empowered to determine the legitimacy of the application of a law. They are called judges. I will take their opinions over yours or mine.

            • Actually they’re not judges. That’s part of the point. Human rights commissions and tribunals are quasi-courts that don’t come with the same protections, and certainly those who are empowered to exert punishment and correction are not formally trained in constitutional law.
              Even still, a judge can get things wrong, especially in a ‘politically correct’ climate that uses language like ‘protected classes’ and the like. You should be able to defend your argument objectively in any case. Otherwise I don’t know why you express an opinion at all. Why not just say that you’re not interested in thinking about it and that you simply trust the judgment of the ‘human rights’ authority?

              • You should be able to defend your argument objectively in any case.

                To be objective, I would say that refusing to bake a cake for the reason that it is to be used for a gay wedding meets the definition of discrimination under the applicable laws. Judging gay marriage to be wrong is subjective.

            • I don’t know why my previous response to this was not posted. I must have broken some rule. First, I don’t think it is necessarily true that these decisions are being made by ‘judges’. Sometimes something like a human rights commission uses a more informal ‘tribunal’ that have their own rules quite separate from an actual court, and don’t have the same protections for the accused (like a right to counsel or a right to face your accuser, etc).
              Secondly, judges can be wrong anyway. Where, for example, in this decision was it established that Phillips’ basic constitutional rights were not violated by this decision? I believe this wasn’t even addressed one way or the other. In any case, this is the point that we are discussing – whether or not this is a good decision and whether it can be defended objectively. If your position is to say you don’t want to think about it or discuss it beyond saying that you trust the discretion of the human rights authority, then you should have just acknowledged that from the beginning.

                • Thanks for the reply and for looking. I must have made some mistake or my own device must have gobbled it. I didn’t think that I’d said anything inappropriate so that makes sense.

              • Where, for example, in this decision was it established that Phillips’ basic constitutional rights were not violated by this decision?

                What proof does he have that his religion prohibits him from selling a wedding cake to be used for the wedding of a same sex couple? I don’t see it anywhere.

                • So your point now is that you trust the discretion of these non-judges without question, and now you suppose you can dismiss Phillips’ concerns because you’re a theologian?
                  The question I posed was whether Phillips’ constitutional rights were even addressed as part of the decision. I’m thinking probably not, because these are not real courts. In any case, it isn’t only a question of religious freedom, it is a question of whether the state can force someone to do work that they would choose not to do; force someone to participate in a particular venture with which they are uncomfortable. This is quite different from the circumstance of turning someone away at the door and denying service as a result of someone’s race or sexual orientation.

                  • Claiming that your religion prohibits you from baking a cake for a gay wedding or paying for employee health insurance that covers contraception is really an abuse of the protections provided under the First Amendment just like claiming the right to own assault weapons is an abuse of the Second Amendment. I think this country has to try to minimize or eliminate such abuses of our Bill of Rights.

                    • Bill, why don’t you bake them a cake and buy their contraceptives. Does your religion prevent YOU from doing so? How about accepting the reality that free people are allowed to choose their own way. We don’t need to act like totalitarians and compromise the Bill of Rights or free markets just because not everyone shares your values.

                    • How about accepting the reality that free people are allowed to choose their own way.

                      To own and operate a business, you must agree to the rules of the jurisdiction under which you do so. We have a national health care policy that some would say infringes on their freedom. So do taxes and the requirements that we all have insurance have been compared to requirements for paying taxes.

                      We have anti-discrimination laws that prohibit businesses from turning down customers based on certain criteria including sexual orientation.

                      People in this country have more freedom than businesses. And the people have voted for this government. That’s about as good as it gets. It isn’t good enough for some, but there will always be people for whom nothing is good enough.

                    • You’ve been repeating yourself for a long time Bill. I’m going to start deleting out of boredom — my own and Public Catholic’s readers.

                    • So you’re not going to bake them a cake?

                      God forbid you ever get caught being compensated for doing something because then according to Bill you’re a slave for life. “No, I don’t feel like cutting your lawn this weekend, I’m going to lay around and do nothing!” “No, I don’t agree to do contract work for Westboro church, because I’m a good person.” “No, I don’t feel like roofing someone’s house at cost for $10 per hour.”

                      According to Bill, when you operate a business you don’t have a right to turn down a job. Apparently those are the rules, apparently that is the law. LOL, please stop saying the same false thing over and over and come up with a serious response!

  21. Does a jewish baker have to bake cakes for a new-nazi club? Does a gay activist consulting firm have to help a christian company market t-shirts opposing the redefinition of marriage? Does a christian company have to print a poster for a gay bath house? Does a black counselor have to counsel a couple that is racist? Does a gay marriage supporter have to sell his business services to polygamists? Does an atheist have to take pictures of a catholic wedding?

    Do we want to live in a society that FORCES ppl to go against their most deeply held beliefs?

    Put yourself in these ppl’s shoes and ask yourself what kind of a society this breeds.

    • This is kind of silly. The law is very clear on this particular issue. Some of your examples just require one to be a good business person. Atheist photographer doing a Catholic wedding? What is the problem with that? Atheists don’t have these kind of hangups. Except when they get sick at the sight of a cross. As Bill Maher says “We’re atheists not freakin’ vampires!”

      • Atheists are more obsessed with religion than any other demographic. In any case an atheist photographer is allowed to choose not to work a Catholic wedding, so what’s your point?

        • My point was that atheists are less likely to feel like their morality is being somehow violated if they are required not to discriminate against people who do not share their worldview.

          • I can’t let this pass.

            The new atheism is built on faux outrage directed at others for disagreeing with them about something based on vaunting self-righteousness. Read the books; listen to the speeches, check out their blogs.

            The atheists I know personally are the most self-righteous and intolerant people I have ever encountered. Ditto for the atheists who comment on this blog. They are forever focusing on other people’s failings to match their personal criteria and condemning them for it.

            • Atheists know they are right and theists are wrong. They know there are no gods, angels, demons, etc. Therefore, there are no rules passed down from a god or angel about things like homosexuality, contraception, etc. Since there are no such rules, people discriminating because they think that they have to in order to comply with these god-given rules are all wet. What courtesy do I owe such delusional people whether they are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc.? Does a Christian honor a rule of a Muslim that apostates must be killed? Of course not. I feel the same about that and religious rules including Christian rules. There are no rules other than those written and adopted by humans. A ban on same sex marriage is such a rule.

              • Bill, sometimes you are too funny.

                “Atheists know they are right and theists are wrong” is your explanation for what so many atheists are aggressive, self-righteous bullies?

                That’s not an explanation, you know. It’s a affirmation of what I said.

                Thanks for the laugh, though. I literally lol’d when I read this.

                • Mike,

                  I make my arguments based on the FACT that there really are no gods, angels, demons, etc. You (should) have no trouble accepting the fact that thousands of pagan gods like Zeus, Thor, Hindu gods, etc. are mere myths. I don’t LOL at you if you deny their existence. Yours is just one more myth. Therefore, I am certain as to what I say on this blog.

                  • Bill, thank you for illustrating perfectly (once again) the point that Rebecca and I made about atheists being both the most self-righteous and the most fundamentalist and ideological of any religious group.

                    You say that your belief that God does not exist is ‘fact-based’? ‘I am certain as to what I say on this blog.’ Wow, very impressive. What’s your definition of a FACT?

                    • Atheism is not a religion. It is the opposite of religion. It doesn’t recognize the authority of religion.

                      It deals with facts including the fact that there is no such thing as the supernatural. Whatever exists is natural. Nature is all-encompassing. “Supernatural” is what people use to justify the existence of what we have yet come to understand in natural terms. Weather was once considered a supernatural phenomenon but now it isn’t by those who understand it.

                    • Bill, the supernatural by definition is not observable. You aren’t talking about ‘facts’ you just choose to dismiss the supernatural. A very good question though is whether the material universe (ie. nature) can possibly be explained without the supernatural. Or to contemplate the consequence of an uncaused existence. That’s not a 5-liner discussion and maybe that’s beyond your depth of thought on the subject.
                      It’s a favorite straw-man argument among atheists to imagine that religions struggle with scientific enquiry, when in reality it is exactly revelation of God and perhaps divine intervention that lifted humanity out of superstition (begrudgingly) and brought about the entire field of scientific enquiry and championed scientific progress ever since. To those who believe in God there is such a thing as truth, there is the conviction that things about the world can be known objectively because there is a defined basis for all things. Atheists probably don’t realized that they’ve learned to believe the same thing, but aren’t willing to contemplate further into the consequences of their own convictions.

                    • A very good question though is whether the material universe (ie. nature) can possibly be explained without the supernatural.

                      That would all depend on what is meant by the “supernatural”. The existence of nature and a material universe need not be dependent on the existence of gods, angels, demons, etc. which people commonly attribute to the supernatural. We could look at nature as having been created by what would logically be supernatural. Carl Sagan called it the “Cosmos”.

                    • See Bill now you’re changing your story, but in doing so I agree with you. Originally you said that it is a fact that ‘there is no such thing as the supernatural’. You clarify what you mean to say that the existence of the material universe need not be dependent on (small g) gods, angels or demons, which I agree is true. Though that’s not the same as saying that their existence is factually untrue. This ‘Cosmos’ that you refer to could be anything. I think that the agnostic position is really just asserting that very thing – that we cannot know the supernatural God or Creator or Cosmos or whatever. Ironically maybe, that’s a very orthodox and basic conviction of Judaism, Islam and Christianity and is asserted as the basic commandment against idolatry. No matter how one ‘puts God in a box’ it is idolatry.
                      That’s not to say that every religion is therefore wrong or pointless. What religion asserts is that this fundamental origin of all creation is an omnipotent intelligence and has a Will which He attempts to communicate with us.

                    • What religion asserts is that this fundamental origin of all creation is an omnipotent intelligence and has a Will which He attempts to communicate with us.

                      The problem is that religion says that and a whole lot more about whatever intelligence there is behind all this. For one thing, why does it have to be “omnipotent”? As incredible as it may be, there is nothing to say that its potency has no limits. Why must it have a “Will” that it tries to communicate to us? And why must we believe all the other stories about it? In fact, why must anyone have to believe in it at all. Either it is or it isn’t. It doesn’t matter who believes in this supernatural intelligence behind all that is.

                    • First, conviction about revelation from God (ie. the ‘whole lot more’ that you’re talking about) makes sense given the basic conviction of an omnipotent deliberate God. The whole agnostic argument that nothing can be known, that religious belief is arbitrary only makes sense if you assume that this God doesn’t exist in the first place.
                      The reason why reflection of God leads to omnipotence is that it is the ONLY alternative to the opposite conviction – which is the atheistic view that all creation follows naturally from the aggregation of simpler things into more complex ones. If there is a greater being than humanity for example that is not omnipotent, then how did that being come into existence? That being is faced with the same paradox as humanity. Either he was created by one who is greater or came about due to what is simpler. The ultimate resolution is that either the atheist is right or in the end there is an entirely Self-Aware being that explains the origin of all things.

                    • The ultimate resolution is that either the atheist is right or in the end there is an entirely Self-Aware being that explains the origin of all things.

                      Everything falls under Nature. The universe has a natural order to it. The unanswerable question is where does this natural order come from? Anyone who claims to know the answer to that is either lying or delusional. Some religiously inclined people think they’ve got it all figured out. The God of the gaps. We don’t know so they credit it to a god.

                    • Bill you’re quoting Dawkins who was quoting Bonhoeffer, and both of you are misapplying the quote.

                    • Not really Bill. That’s just easier to say then facing the real question before you. If we are not just here by chance, if we are here deliberately under a Creator then it seems possible that God might attempt to bring us revelation of that purpose and interfere with His grace and goodness. What ‘some religiously inclined people think’ can hardly be a condemnation of all religious conviction. Having the conviction that God does not show us His ways, that Christ was simply a liar, that his martyred followers were delusional is simply your version of religious conviction.

                    • If we are not just here by chance, if we are here deliberately under a Creator then it seems possible that God might attempt to bring us revelation of that purpose and interfere with His grace and goodness.

                      So, because to you it “seems possible”, you accept “revelation” as it is presented by your religion, and others accept what is revealed to them by their religion. And there is no evidence to confirm these revelations so they must be accepted on faith. Sure.

                    • No Bill, you’re the one who is dismissing the question not me. You are the one who said it’s a “fact that there is no such thing as the supernatural. Whatever exists is natural”. You’re the one who said that the cause of nature is an ‘unanswerable question’. Why say that unless you are convinced that God DOES NOT speak to us through revelation? Why say that unless you have decided ahead of time that God does not exist?
                      You said that there is ‘no evidence to confirm these revelations’. Actually there is a great deal of evidence. Does that mean that we know? No, it doesn’t. But then again you would have to admit, ‘knowing’ is a matter of degree. We don’t ‘know’ that dinosaur bones weren’t planted here by aliens or that Michael Jordan isn’t in fact 5’4″ (at least I don’t, I’ve never met him).

                    • Why can’t that “Omnipotent Intelligence” be SHE? If there is a creator, female makes more sense than male as women are the ones (with a little male help) who actually carry and bring forth the next generations. Isn’t it possible that God is female?

                    • As much a She as a He I would think; or neither. Catholic dogma says both men and women are made in God’s image, and God “the Father” doesn’t have a body so I think isn’t literally a male or female. Though I’m not a theologian.

                    • Considering that God is referred to as “God the Father” seems to imply a male, even though “God the Father”, according to the Church, doesn’t have a body. I know these questions are not easy to answer if one hasn’t done serious studies in religion. I just find it interesting.

                    • Saying ‘God the Father’ identifies one identity (or person) within the trinity; the other two being ‘the Son’ (or the Word) and the Holy Spirit. The language is I think metaphorical and also from a culture that assumed men to be of higher status than women, or atleast the identifiable head of the family. In any case it doesn’t make sense to me to argue that God is in fact male.

            • I believe this is unfair. On a.blog like this when outnumbered, it is easy to come on strong.

              I criticize people’s behavior when they seem to be holding themselves to a different standard or when they use religion to harm others. Examples (my opinion), claiming pro-life to deny contraceptives to others, yet voting against social safety nets. Also, fighting against gay marriage, which will harm real people by denying them legal protections but will not change the number of gay families. This strikes me as mean.

              On the other hand, I try to admit when I’m wrong and be honest when i agree with someonr.

                • Thanks. I am an atheist, former southern baptist and episcopal. I tend to dislike statements that all people with a given label are “X”. I’ve found that people are basically all the same, and if you look at a group, most human strengths and weaknesses will be there. Arrogance is found in every place where humans gather.

          • Bill, in that case your point isn’t actually to support the illiberal position that an atheist photographer ought to be sued and bullied into working a catholic wedding against their will. On that particular point we are in agreement.
            However, I certainly share Rebecca’s experience with regard to atheists in general that in fact it is difficult to find a religious denomination that is more ideological or whose political views are more impacted by their religious beliefs than atheists. For example, consider exit polls from the 2012 election. The Catholic vote was split and representative of the American population as a whole (with a slightly higher percentage voting Democrat, but close to 50/50). The most extreme bias represented according to religious belief appeared among atheists where an excess of 90% voted Democrat. Just saying.

            • This is temporary (I hope). There are many atheists with conservative views, but who cannot support the social issues of the current republican party.

          • So Lark62: a Catholic couple tries to commission an atheist photographer to work their wedding. You’re saying it ought to be against the law for him to say no? What if the wage isn’t good? Who decides what qualifies as a ‘fair wage’ to decide the legality of his decision? What if he merely feels uncomfortable being in a Catholic church or he would rather take the weekend off? What if he mostly dislikes working weddings and only does so for friends or what if he takes jobs when he feels like it because he’s his own person? Sure sounds like you’re willing to abandon the whole framework of capitalism (ie. the free exercise of trade) and diminish the status of free people to that of quasi-slaves in order to justify the totalitarian injustices committed against Phillips.

            • Read my comment in context. No one can discriminate on the basis of religion or race or sexual orientation. This means that the services must be provided to all on the same terms. If the fee is $1000 for a wedding of a certain size and complexity, it doesn’t change to $2500 for catholics only. If there is a 3 month waiting list, it doesn’t magically become a 12 month wait for blacks.

              • Lark62: good points. I agree with that assessment. However, there’s a distinction here when it comes to forcing someone to take on a job as opposed to having different costs/lead times based on race, etc. Just as it is one matter for an employer to wrongfully dismiss an employee, and another matter to decide whether or not to hire. The other important distinction is that what the customer asks for in this case is not entirely generic. They are asking for a particular product to fulfill a particular purpose – which is to celebrate their marriage ceremony. I actually agree that it would be wrong and illegal for Phillips to refuse selling a cake because of the customer’s sexual orientation, but he shouldn’t be forced to support gay marriage through making a wedding cake when he thinks it is morally wrong. Just as I don’t think a consultant or a lawyer should be forced to work for Westboro Church when they think it is morally wrong.

                • note: In the analogy to Westboro church, it is because the consultant objects to doing the particular work that Westboro church asks of them. Maybe a better example is a print shop that refuses to copy Westboro church flyers that says “Gays are going to hell”. An entirely objective print shop who doesn’t have scruples about it might just print the flyers and take the money. Another print shop might refuse. I don’t think that the law should dictate that business people be forbidden from exercising this kind of discretion. Certainly they should not be reprimanded by being forced to take sensitivity training to undermine their values.

                • Also Lark62: realistically if an atheist photographer had a policy that they would not work Catholic weddings (maybe because they strongly oppose the institution of the Church and their position wrt gay marriage, abortion, etc), I don’t think that we would be having this conversation.
                  I think that everyone would accept the decision of the photographer to decline the job. A Jewish photographer might have a policy that they only work Jewish weddings. A gay photographer might have a policy of only working gay weddings. On some level such a policy may be seen as intolerant, a poor business decision, maybe even offensive to some, but in no case do I think we would claim that the photographer is acting illegally. In no cases do I imagine an American court of law forcing the photographer to do the job.
                  And I will go ahead from the outset and admit that it is the minority status of the affected group that renders these scenarios somewhat different, but the main point is to establish that there is a precedent for choosing the work you do based on your own values, based on your own interests. In this case Phillips doesn’t want to be involved in the process of celebrating a gay wedding. He might think that the two men who are getting married are going to hell for doing this. Why should he be forced to bake a wedding cake for a gay marriage any more than he should be forced to bake a cake to celebrate an abortion? I think the reason why it is easy to dismiss Phillips’ rights in this case is that people so strongly disagree with his convictions that they don’t perceive the problem. In some cases they agree to punish him purely out of a spirit of activism. But we all know that if we do not defend the rights of those with whom we disagree then we don’t defend rights at all.

        • The accusation that atheists are obsessed with religion is unfair.

          The man who just defeated Cantor in Virginia has as part of his core platform that religious faith is essential to morality in America. Thus, unless my religious beliefs steer like his, I am immoral and unpatriotic. He will soon be making laws that affect me.

          The Catholic church supports evolution, but many other christians want to teach religion on science class.

          We have to pay attention to religion to defend our rights. But, I will defend your rights on the same terms my own. I sincerely believe that there is no religious freedom unless it applies equally to all.

          • Lark62, first, he wasn’t elected, he was nominated. Second, even if he is elected, he won’t be elected dictator. He will be one of many members of Congress, each of whom have one vote. Third, what does this have to do with atheists being god-obsessed. If you doubt that they are, go visit the atheist blogs. They don’t write or talk about anything else.

          • Lark62: “The man who just defeated Cantor in Virginia has as part of his core platform that religious faith is essential to morality in America.” Um yeah. And that’s called an opinion. It’s also a pretty rational point of view. There must be some basis or framework for morality. Unless atheists carry a different definition of the word MORALITY. Do atheists even believe in actual consciousness? If consciousness is nothing but a consequence of a highly complicated organism – a perception of the brain which is an object then there is no such thing as morality. In fact in that case there is no such thing as actual decision-making – or certainly we can’t take responsibility for decision making. If atheists are right and a human being and their consciousness is nothing more than a very complicated collection of many smaller and simpler parts then existentially WE are actually fully defined by those parts and cannot justifiably be held accountable for what comes about as a result of our makeup. If on the other hand we have the ability to make choices, if we are in fact conscious and have the authority of a will over our physical being then there can be such a thing as morality.

      • Bill, “The law is very clear on this particular issue. Some of your examples just require one to be a good business person.”

        Wow, really? Jews and gay activists and blacks just have some hangups that they should get over? Sheesh, conviction and individuality is just so silly eh Bill? And apparently highly inconvenient to your argument lol.

    • The laws identify specific protected classes. Religion is one. Yes, a counselor is supposed to leave personal opinions outside. Whether based on religion, sexuality or a deep seated hatred of blond cheerleaders. Printers print posters, not judge the contents.

      I don’t whether neo-nazis are a protected class. But our society works better without discrimination.

      • Personal, deep, convictions regarding moral rights and wrongs are protected from discrimination by the highest laws in the land: compelled speech should be an abomination to all liberal freedom loving citizens.

  22. What I don’t get is that ssm isn’t even legal in Colorado, so how can he be made to bake a cake supporting something that isn’t even legal?

    • Two people can have a ceremony exchanging vows of fidelity to one another. The state doesn’t prohibit it. It just doesn’t record it as a marriage. If it were illegal to be gay, then the baker might have a valid excuse.

    • Theres no law prohibiting gay couples from holding ceremonies and calling themselves ‘married.’ Its just not recognized by the government for things like taxes, inheritance, etc.

    • We do have an instance of a gay hairdresser who refused to style a female governor’s hair because of her opposition to gay marriage. I wrote about it, so it’s here on Public Catholic somewhere. Will that do as an example?

      • How did it end? I view this as slightly different since a governor is in a position to make policy, so the discrimination was based on what she did, not who she was as a person. But I still think the hairdresser was wrong.

        As to how it ended, the governor behaved like a grown-up and went to another hairdresser.

        • Governors are not in a position to make policy. They can sign legislation or veto it, and they have vast powers of appointment and oftentimes, depending on the state, regulation. They also can and do suggest policy. But the power to make policy through statute is legislative.

  23. What they did is no different than refusing to serve a black person and they should know that it is wrong and not in the christian spirit to do so.

    • I’m getting kind of weary with this line of thinking. The problems of homosexuals (which have been unjust treatment, I agree) do not in any way rise to the level of hundreds of years of slavery, followed by Jim Crow laws from shore to shining shore, lynchings and the other things the black people had to endure, and then finally, overcame through a movement that was dignified by incredible, Gospel-based courage and sacrifice.

      This equation of a refusal to bake a wedding cake by a person who is more than willing to serve the individuals in question in any other area with the sufferings of African Americans is not only idiotic, it’s insulting what African Americans suffered, what they have achieved, and the lessons they taught all of us by the way they achieved it.

      • Wow. Not even what I was saying. I did not in any way compare the plight or injustice of gays to blacks.
        Gays do not choose to be gay, much as african americans do not choose to be black. It is bigotry and it is not ok, and more to my point, it is not christian.

        As for the point of your post, I agree. Their history of plight is not equivalent. It’s not what I was talking about.

      • I agree that it is a matter of degree and that African Americans had it far worse than present groups who are discriminated against. But that doesn’t change the underlying principal and discrimination is still wrong and in many cases illegal.

        • It is not a question of degree. It is a matter of actual fact. The experience of African Americans is unique.

          They were slaves in this country for hundreds of years. They have been working to overcome that stigma ever since. They were subjected to systematized, universally legal and Supreme-Court supported ghettoization and discrimination on every level of their lives. They had no recourse in the courts or civil law. They were forced to live in certain areas, attend deliberately sub-standard schools, banned from most occupations, denied access to higher education, not allowed to participate in any of the normal pleasures and necessities of our country. They were banned from swimming in public pools, could not go to amusement parks, sleep in hotel rooms or eat at restaurants. When they went to movies, they had to sit in a balcony that was reserved for them.

          I remember a movie I went to as a kid had a section like this. I had no idea is was “coloreds only.” I used to go up there and throw popcorn and parts of suckers down on the women’s bouffant hairdos below. (I got sent home from the movie for doing this, btw) I still remember how the black people who were sitting there shifted around when I came up and sat down with them. They didn’t say anything, but they were shocked. Me, a little kid, didn’t know what was going on. But their surprise registered on me, even then,

          African Americans were not allowed to serve on juries, subjected to laws that made it impossible for them to vote. The literacy laws required that you had to read. But in practice, people would go in to vote, and the election worker would hand them something written in Chinese and ask them to read that. Ergo, they failed the test.

          The men were addressed as “boy” in an insulting way. The women were called “girl” in the same insulting way.

          A black man who looked a white man in the eye in conversation ran the chance of being attacked and beaten, or worse. He was an “uppity nigger.” White people who treated black people with dignity were shunned, mocked and subject to violence and discrimination themselves. They were called “nigger lovers” which was a dangerously pejorative term.

          They were defenseless against crimes of violence enacted against them. if they fought back, the violence would exacerbate. Law enforcement would not protect them. There were lynchings, beatings, rapes, burning of their homes and other crimes against their persons and they had no recourse to seek redress.

          If they got sick, they could not go to a “white” hospital, even if this meant that they would die. They could not give blood that would be used by a white person and could not receive a blood transfusion that came from a white person.

          There’s more, but this is a good start.

          To claim that a person who is freely able to walk into any store and purchase service is being treated the same as African Americans were under Jim Crow because the shop owner who is completely willing and has a history of serving them in all other areas does not want to participate in one particular type of even that violates his religious beliefs by providing a cake for it, is the same as what African Americans endured in this country arrogant hyperbole and nonsense. It is also degrading and demeaning to the noble struggle for equality that African Americans have fought.

          • All you have done is confirm my statement that it is a matter of degree. The situation for blacks could have been a million times worse than for LGBTs just like the situation for Christians in Muslim countries could be a million times worse than for the Greens or the Little Sisters of the Poor. It is a matter of degree. Just as you think the HHS is persecuting Christians, I think the baker is discriminating in violation of a state law.

              • No one could claim discrimination if it had to be as severe as what happened to blacks in this country. Less severe discrimination such as that of the baker is still wrong and illegal.

                • That may or may not be a valid point, depending on the situation. But it begs the question entirely of repeated comments and claims that the great cake bake demand is exactly the same as what African Americans faced. Those claims have been made repeatedly on this blog every time these issues come up.

                  • I still maintain that there are parallels between discrimination against race in the past and against sexual orientation today. Granted, it was much worse for blacks.

                    • Homosexuals were subjected to discrimination, including violent discrimination, in the past. They were beaten up and the police did not protect them. I had a friend this happened to as recently as my first time in office back in the 80s. I went to the police chief in question and demanded that he enforce the law, which changed things immediately in that one jurisdiction. Also, the sodomy statutes, as they were enforced, were a kind of homosexual Jim Crow law.

                      On the other hand, I have no problems with arresting people for having sex in public places, because that clearly disrupts the free use of public facilities by all citizens. I also don’t understand why San Francisco allows public behavior like what I’ve seen in photos from the Folsom street fair or whatever it’s called. Sex in public should not be allowed. Ditto for nudity.

                      There are a whole range of questions that revolve around the issues of public sex and nudity that need to be resolved. I find it interesting that this is true. Why should we have to “resolve” something so obvious?

                      When homosexuals yell homophobia because the limits on public behavior that apply to all people pertaining to nudity and sexual behavior are also being applied to them, they are crossing a line into something that has nothing to do with human and civil rights.

                      As for the wedding cake thing, what the baker did is neither homophobia nor a violation of anyone’s civil rights.

                      First of all, the baker does not deny service to any class or group of people, including homosexuals. He is refusing to participate in one specific type of EVENT because of his religious beliefs. Second, there is not and never has been any prohibition to public access for people based on their sexual preferences.

                      It appears to me that the baker is the one whose civil and human rights are being violated here. His free right to live by his religious beliefs is being trammeled in what I honestly see as legal bullying. I did a brief survey of the members of the commission that arrived at this decision, and I do not think they were unbiased on this question. I also think that these local laws have set up a system of extra-constitutional devices that clearly violate the freedoms we are all guaranteed in the Constitution. They are verging on totalitarianism.

                      I view this entire episode as an unjust act of aggression against the baker, not the two men who wanted the cake. I also think that “sensitivity training” is being used as a type of re-education and thought control that is flat-out totalitarian.

                      To conflate this with the things that black people have endured and overcome in this country is inaccurate and insulting to African American people and their history.

                    • This story has led to an interesting discussion but I think we are missing the simplicity of this. When someone providing a service to the general public decides not to provide that service to any class of people protected under anti-discrimination laws, that person has violated the law. There can be any number of excuses for violating the law. The excuse might be understandable but the law still has to be enforced.

                    • My point is that this application of this law violates the First Amendment rights of Mr Phillips. It also violates his basic human right (which transcends any court) to freedom of religion. It is being enforced by use of, among other things, “sensitivity training,” which, as is has been used lately in these types of cases comes pretty close to government ordered brain washing simply because the people in charge of it disagree with a person’s Constitutionally-protected beliefs. That is totalitarianism.

                      Do you not see that this same kind of draconian over-empowerment of government can be used against ANYBODY, including, if they fall out of favor in the future, homosexuals? This is dangerous stuff you are advocating Bill.

                    • It is being enforced by use of, among other things, “sensitivity training,”

                      The young woman training to be a counselor is the one in need of “sensitivity training” in order to properly counsel people.

                      No one is imposing it on the baker. He is being required to comply and teach his employees to comply and report his progress in complying with anti-discrimination laws. Whether he chooses to be “sensitive” to his customers’ feelings or not is entirely up to him.

                      I was talking about the baker, not the counselor.
                      Teaching and certifying a counselor is a lot different than enforcing laws that apply to everyone. It’s not for me (or you) to tell professional counselors how to train their students. That’s above my pay grade as a professional blogger (-;

                • Every person has the right to their beliefs and if that is not true then pray tell who shall we appoint to dicatate what beliefs we are to have. You walk a slippery slope, you are foolish, brainwashed. All have beliefs, homos are free to be homos, they are free to be so, Christans , shun not the person but the act, we should be free to do so. Pick up your bible, I am one of those few who in later years became a Christian. I researched everything in the bible, everything in it is truth, the most amazing part, 2000 years ago, what is happening today was written about.
                  You discrimante against Christians, you have decided that if we don’t agree with you it is wrong, so we should be punished. We don’t think you should be punished for disagreeing with us, we don’t think you are less then we are, we leave all that up to God. We do strive to follow his laws and we should be free to do so. This nation is going to fall and it going to fall because of people like you, people like you who think you should be able to oppress others. You will be alive to suffer the horror of what you have created. God have mercy on us!

      • True maybe that blacks have been oppressed to a greater degree than homosexuals, but I’m sure many homosexuals and other individuals suffer a great deal on case-by-case basis. Who’s to say whether an individual suffered sufficiently to deserve special protection?

        I think it would be reprehensible to deny someone service only because of sexual orientation. That’s different though than kicking someone out of your restaurant because they are making out with their partner at the table, or for inappropriate dress or conduct. It’s also different than making a decision not to bake a cake for a gay wedding because on a personal level you don’t support gay marriage.

  24. Note: I’m getting tired of deleting name-calling comments. They are coming from both sides of this discussion.

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